Missing MH370 carried lithium ion batteries as cargo but not seen as 'dangerous'

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysian authorities on Friday confirmed that the missing Malaysia Airline Flight MH370 was carrying some lithium ion batteries in its cargo hold but did not regard them as endangering safety because standard rules were observed in packing the batteries for transportation.

Lithium ion batteries - commonly used in laptops and mobile phones - are prone to overheating and have been known to burst into flames. But this is a relatively rare occurrence although it has prompted some instances of recall of such batteries.

In reply to a question during a press conference here on Friday, Malaysian officials said the cargo on board the missing plane was being investigated but authorities did not regard the lithium ion batteries as dangerous and standard rules were observed in packing the batteries for transportation.

"These are not regarded as dangerous goods... and were packed as recommended by the International Civil Aviation Organisation," said Malaysia Airlines CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya.

Such batteries are carried by many other airlines, he added.

The International Air Transport Association estimates that over a billion lithium cells are flown each year.

The search for the missing MH370 has been dogged by mystery and misinformation since it disappeared off the radar on March 8, with 239 people on board as it headed from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

Nearly two-thirds of the passengers on board were Chinese nationals and their angry relatives have been unhappy with Malaysia's handling of the crisis,

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott told Parliament in Canberra on Thursday that satellite images had shown two objects in the southern Indian Ocean which could have come from flight MH370, raising hopes of a breakthrough in the unprecendented multinational hunt for the plane.

Although the grainy satellite images were too indistinct to confirm as debris from Flight MH370, Australia and Malaysia say they are the most "credible" leads so far in the hunt.